From CBD-infused sparkling waters to herbal tonics, there is no shortage of startup soda brands pitching healthy alternatives to the long-dominant “Big Soda” industry. One brand, Olipop, has gained notable traction in Los Angeles—having made its debut at one of L.A.’s buzziest grocers and assembled an enviable cadre of celebrity backers.
On Tuesday, Olipop unveiled a new $30 million Series B funding round led by Monogram Capital Partners, the Beverly Hills-based venture capital firm that focuses on consumer and retail businesses. Joining Monogram is a slew of big-name investors including pop star Camilla Cabello, all three of the Jonas Brothers, actress and comedian Mindy Kaling and Goop lifestyle mogul Gwyneth Paltrow, as well as founders and executives from the likes of PepsiCo, TikTok, Equinox and Shake Shack. The funding values Olipop at $200 million, according to the startup.
Though based in Oakland, Olipop has established close ties in the L.A. community. Launched in 2018, the soda brand first appeared on the shelves of trendy organic supermarket Erewhon, where it quickly became one of the top-selling drinks. (Olipop has since expanded to larger chains like Whole Foods, Kroger and Sprouts.)
“We wouldn’t be where we are right now without the L.A. ecosystem jumping on board,” Olipop head of new business development Steven Vigilante told dot.LA. “Hopefully we can replicate that in the rest of the country.”
The brand has sought to capture the nostalgia of cracking open a Coke—it offers soda fountain-era flavors like Vintage Cola and Classic Root Beer, as well as fruitier twists like Strawberry Vanilla—without the artificialities that accompany traditional sodas. Olipop’s combination of prebiotics and unorthodox ingredients like Jerusalem artichoke, chicory root and slippery elm bark creates a mixture that is relatively low on sugar and calories while rich in fiber. (Each can contains two-to-five grams of sugar, 35-to-45 calories and up to nine grams of fiber.)
Monogram saw the potential in a better-for-you soda alternative and considered Olipop to be a first mover in the space, according to Jared Stein, a partner at the Beverly Hills-based VC firm. The Series B is Monogram’s third investment in the company, after it participated in the startup’s seed round and led its $10 million Series A in 2020.
“We saw a massive market-size opportunity in soda,” Stein told dot.LA. “Olipop’s flavor profile fits much more closely towards soda—which becomes important when you think about not just reaching your customer in a Whole Foods on the coast, but being able to convert a longtime soda drinker in the middle of the country who’s more value-focused in terms of price point.” (Olipop sells for $2.49 per can at retailers like Target.)
Olipop plans to use the Series B funding to grow its team, develop more flavors and products and expand its ecommerce and wholesale channels. The brand also plans to ramp up its marketing presence through both a national TV ad campaign and online channels like TikTok, where an influencer-led campaign is in the works.
“It took us three years to get to 8,000 stores by the end of 2021, and we’ll be in 19,000 [stores] by June of this year,” Vigilante said.
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